The acquisition of [X+1] by Rocketfuel signals the beginning of the end for “programmatic” ad networks. Since the industry’s shift to programmatic, countless ad networks have changed how they market themselves, adjusting their sales language to mimic legitimate programmatic platforms. The “programmatic” ad network insertion order-based and flat-rate business model has prolonged the black box opacity that spurred the need for demand side platforms and exchange based media buying. It’s only fitting that one of the industry’s most successful “programmatic” ad networks — Rocketfuel — is addressing client demand by making a move that launches them into the digital marketing SaaS market.
There is a lot to be said about the success that Rocketfuel has had in the industry; they have done great things for marketers looking to automate audience prospecting and retargeting. They certainly have done an amazing job marketing their programmatic chops, with the success of their AI product and their success with agencies running performance based campaigns. Their recent revenue growth and the fact that Rocketfuel had the capital to acquire a DSP/DMP in [X+1], are testaments to the success that they have had in the industry.
Despite their success, prolonging opacity for marketers in this market is a short-term strategy, and Rocketfuel is positioning itself for long-term success.
Coming from the agency trading desk world, I did not partner with Rocketfuel for several reasons:
Rocketfuel works with marketers and agencies on a flat-rate business model, which is aligned with traditional ad network buying.
Efficient Frontier announced last week its official entry into display advertising with a platform that integrates biddable display with search marketing, real-time bidding capabilities, and the Efficient Frontier trademark portfolio approach to optimization that uses predictive modeling to forecast performance outcomes.
I think this certainly indicates further momentum into the world of biddable display media, and eventually biddable media in all formats. See more about Forrester's thoughts on dynamic media buying and what it will mean for media buying on and offline in the report, Demystifying the DSP.
I think the platform from Efficient Frontier addresses a much needed combination -- that of paid search and biddable display media. But I also think that this platform, competing ones -- like those developed by Vivaki -- and demand-side platforms are in “version 1.” Not a bad place to be at the early stage of an emerging opportunity. But I do expect that all of these tools will refine over the next two years. I think they will continue to add data sources, more inventory, additional and easier to use functionality, better metrics, and better reporting. But v.2 will develop only after advertisers begin testing dynamic media buying and can show technology players what additional depth and breadth they need.